Jun 4, 2024

PDX: Meet Your New Teacher

Introducing Charlie Henderson

Summertime is the perfect time to introduce you to new Portland Teacher Charlie Henderson (they/them). Charlie is like a blast of UV warmth on a grassy, lakeside afternoon: big smiles, unbridled zeal, grounded and patient energy, and always ready to wiggle bare toes into some new earth. For Charlie, movement and pleasure are inextricable (we love!), weirder is sweeter, and dancing in (and through) parks is an absolute must. Portland, meet Charlie! 

🪩 Okay, right off the bat, we need to know more about your weaving of dance and pleasure. 

Charlie: Ah, I love this question! To me, the deepest source of power comes from our pleasure. Dance, specifically the gaga technique, was my introduction to understanding my body and my pleasure as a young adult. Dance is a sanctuary for feeling our most powerful, familiar, and feral parts. Weaving authentic pleasure with the untamed and weird. It is a space where I tap into the intuitive wisdom of my body. It’s how I continue showing up fully for my community, students, and myself. My mission is to support all humans in accessing this unique power through movement and dance so they can show up for themselves and what they care most about.

🪩 Dance Church is SO aligned with your practice of dance as pleasure-seeking and catharsis. It sounds like you’ve also been cultivating this in your own practice for a while! Tell us about your history with dance.

Charlie: I trained in classical ballet from childhood until college and eventually received a BFA in Ballet Performance. In college, I found contemporary dance and choreography, and my dance career trajectory took a huge pivot. I studied gaga with the San Francisco Conservatory, choreographed multiple pieces for the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music, and went on to choreograph and dance professionally with Polaris Dance Theater, a dance company based in Portland. I used choreography as a way to express my pleasure, my mental health journey, and the wild and creative parts of my brain that had no other outlet. Additionally, I am actively engaged in the Ecstatic dance, Zouk, and Burlesque dance communities in Portland. 

🪩 Okay, so that’s (recent and semi-distant) past. What are you doing with movement now, aside from Dance Church?

Charlie: My background outside of dance includes Tantra, Yoga, and meditation, incorporating insights from Western neuroscience, psychology, and trauma healing. As an intimacy + empowerment coach, I support clients in both one-on-one and group settings to help them feel more empowered in their bodies, relationships, and the experience of pleasure and joy. These sessions include parts work, dance, emotional release, breathwork, and other therapeutic somatic techniques. 

A project that I am very excited about is Stranger: a cosmic dance experience for the wild and weird! Stranger is a silent disco dance experience that brings the Portland community together through play, nature, movement, and connection-based games. Think morning walk meets silent disco dance meets joking with new friends in the park. Stranger starts at the end of June/early July so stay tuned if you want to join! 

🪩 Sounds like you’re pretty embedded in quite a few communities and practices. Tell us more about what community means to you!

Charlie: The way I create and maintain community, as well as choose the spaces I connect with, all revolve around getting clear on my values, goals, and what brings me joy. I have a strong desire to be part of and build communities that prioritize authenticity, reciprocity, play, social justice, and empowerment. 

The LGBTQIA2S+ community is near and dear to my heart. As a member of this community, I am passionate about providing classes and opportunities for individuals to come together, heal, dance, and celebrate themselves and their bodies in an accessible and inclusive space. Additionally, I aspire to establish an inclusive space where people of all body types, races, ages, and backgrounds can feel welcome to join in and express themselves authentically.

🪩 We know that at Dance Church, music is such a huge aspect of our shared experience and representation. Get us excited to dance with you! Share a song or two that you’re really keyed into right now? 

Charlie: ID10 by Rezz and Heavens Gates by Devault (feat. Izzy Camina)

🪩 Funnnn. We can’t wait to meet you on the dance floor. When is your first class?

Charlie: Sunday June 9! Sign up

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